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Whistler Workforce up by mid-March

Extra bedrooms added to temporary housing project



With less than a year to go until the 2010 Olympic Games, Whistler Workforce continues to march forward, and the temporary housing should be ready for occupancy mid-March.

John Jervis, spokesperson for the project that will house Whistler employees through the Olympics until April 2010, said local businesses are in the process of signing leases and handing in their deposit cheques. Each single-occupancy bedroom rents for $700 a month.

Unclaimed rooms will likely be offered to VANOC after Feb. 27, he said. Local businesses who still want to sign up after that point will be charged $800 a month per room.

A sixth bedroom is also being added to each housing-unit, and the total number of beds could increase from 300 to 350.

"That was Alvaro's (Ponce de Leon, president of Whistler Workforce) decision," said Jervis.

"The timeline keeps getting shorter and shorter, and there is an end fixed date. This affects financing... Our choice was either to change to a six-bedroom model or increase the monthly rent."

Jervis said he understands six-bedrooms will be cramped. Each of Whistler Workforce's units will consist of a kitchen, a bathroom and six individual bedrooms. The common area has been scrapped from the plans.

He stressed that leases only run for a 14-month term, and Whistler Workforce is "relief housing."

"A lot of people are paying $1,000 or $1,200 to sleep on a couch. For $700, you will get your own bedroom," he said.

The temporary buildings will go on the Holborn site, next to the Whistler Racquet Club and Wildwood Bar and Bistro, until July 1, 2010. They will be three storeys tall, with steel siding and asphalt shingle roofs.

Project developers are currently preparing the land for the temporary buildings, which should arrive within the next month.